Ontario offers $10Gs grant to businesses forced to close, hydro break

The Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant will be paid out in February.

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Restaurants, bars, gyms and other small businesses forced to scale back or close under Ontario’s new lockdown measures will be eligible for a grant of up to $10,000, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy says

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The Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant will be paid out in February.

The Doug Ford government will also provide electricity around the clock at the off-peak price of 8.2 cents per kilowatt-hour to small businesses, residential customers and farms.

The break on hydro prices begins at 12:01 a.m. Jan. 18 and goes for 21 days, available to customers on time-of-use and tiered rate plans who pay regulated rates set by the Ontario Energy Board and get their bills from a utility.

“Our government understands that public health measures needed to blunt the spread of the Omicron variant are impacting the lives and livelihoods of small businesses, workers and families across Ontario,” Bethlenfalvy said in a statement Friday.

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Eligible businesses that qualified under the existing Ontario Small Business Support Grant will be pre-screened for the relief grant and won’t have to re-apply, the government says.

New or newly eligible businesses must apply when the online application portal opens “in the coming weeks,” the government says.

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Dan Kelly, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), tweeted in response, “It is good news the Ontario govt will provide $10K grants to help compensate for lockdowns. It appears those who received earlier rounds won’t need to reapply. But if lockdowns go on for longer than 3 weeks, this is entirely insufficient.”

Rocco Rossi, Ontario Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, said the new grant was welcome news but many businesses will be left behind.

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“The grant is too narrow as it only applies to businesses that were required to fully close,” Rossi said in a statement. “It misses those that are at limited capacity or those losing revenue as a result of restrictions affecting their clients such as food service suppliers.

“On the other hand, the electricity subsidy is too broad as it will largely benefit ratepayers that are not impacted by current restrictions,” he added.

The Labour Force Survey, released Friday by Stats Canada, reported that Ontario led employment growth in Canada last month with 468,000 added positions since May, mostly in wholesale, retail trade and manufacturing.

However, that figure was prior to the announcement that Ontario would reverse to Step Two in its reopening plan, and previous lockdowns have seen significant negative impacts on the job market.

aartuso@postmedia.com

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